The term ‘Imagineer’ is actually the combination of two words: ‘imagination’ and ‘engineering’ which implies the implementation of creative ideas in a practical and achievable manner. Though the term ‘imagineer’ and ‘Imagineering’ were not originally coined by Disney, Walt Disney, Inc. and WED Enterprises (the precursor companies that would later be renamed Walt Disney Imagineering), started using these words approximately in 1962, with Disney filing for a trademark to exclusively use the terms in 1967. (See the included course and module: “History of Walt Disney Imagineering”.)
Walt Disney Imagineer’s are considered by many to be the best-of-the-best when it comes to creators of themed, immersive Guest experiences and immersive storytelling. Imagineering is responsible for the creation of the storyline, design and oversight of the implementation of all Disney branded: theme parks, attractions, Lands, hotels and resorts, physical Guest experiences, cruise ships, Disney Cruise Line island design, retail stores and venues, etc. Essentially, if a Disney Guest can walk through it, watch it, touch it, ride in it, sleep in it, shop in it, eat in it, etc.; then Walt Disney Imagineers are responsible for the story, the design, have Creative oversight, and Creative ‘maintenance’ of all these elements.
Imagineer’s are not just engineers. A common mistake that is often made when speaking with people that may not quite know or understand what a Disney Imagineer is. Walt Disney Imagineering has over 140 different design and implementation disciplines within the company. Everything from Architects, Engineers, Illustrators, Graphic Designers, Interior Designers, model makers, IT and Data professionals, construction managers, project managers, Show Writers, Show Producers, Research and Development individuals that pair with R&D colleges and universities around the world…..the list goes on and on. All of these disciplines are organized by ‘studios’. At a high level there are several ‘studios’, such as: Creative, Environmental Design and Engineering (which includes all the architects, engineers, landscape architects, interior designers, etc.), Show, Creative Entertainment, etc.
Understanding that Walt Disney Imagineering is a collection of many design disciplines is important to an individual who may be interested in becoming an Imagineer. As you move through these courses and modules, you will see that one will need to have an understanding as to what inspires them, what moves them, and what motivates them to want to become an Imagineer. For as you can see, there are multiple roles within Walt Disney Imagineering that one can perform. The question one should ask themselves at the onset of this journey is, “What can I do every day for many years and still be inspired, passionate, and be motivated to go to work each day. What is it that, in terms of one’s own talents and passion, can they bring that is unique to this forum of experts known as Imagineering?” The one question I was asked in one of my interviews prior to being hired at Walt Disney Imagineering that has always stood out and motivated me is, “What can you bring to WDI that we don’t currently have; why should we hire you and not the next candidate on the list?”